UPDATED NOV 11, 2019
Baltimore may be a big city, but if you drive just a few miles from this urban jungle, you can find yourself wandering the woods, climbing cliffs, or swimming in refreshing natural water. So pack the sunscreen and an appetite for adventure (and snacks), and check out this list of trails throughout the Baltimore area.
At Patapsco Valley State Park, experience a 2.5-mile adventure through heavily wooded walkways. This easily hiked trail guides you to Bloede’s Dam and the Orange Grove Flour Mill, which is only accessible by The Swinging Bridge (don’t forget to pay the troll toll).
Searching for a long hike along the reservoir? This 9.3-mile trail along Loch Raven is leisurely and relaxing at the start of the trail. However, as you make your way north along the reservoir, expect to come across more angled pathways better suited for mountain goats. Deeper in the woods along the trail, you'll find foundations of old homes and remains of what seems to be a cemetery.
Another trail within Rocks State Park, the White Trail surrounds you with plenty of Maryland’s natural beauty. Experience a mix of hiking, climbing, and history along this three-mile loop. Just a few feet off this trail, you can climb an eclectic group of rocks known as the King and Queen Seats. What used to be ceremonial gathering place for the Susquehanna Indians is now a place for hikers to get a great perspective of the surrounding area 200 feet above Deer Creek.
A short hike within Harford County’s Rocks State Park, this family-friendly trail offers a spectacular payoff at the end of the trail. Follow the 1.3 miles of serene forest and occasional climbing all the way to Kilgore Falls, a 17-foot waterfall perfect for taking a dip if you’ve worked up a sweat. Fitt Tip: parking is tough at the mouth of the trail, so pack some patience.
Don’t let the name scare you, this 1.7-mile trail is unexpectedly quiet and beautiful. Prep for a short but pleasant and leveled hike at this trail in Loch Raven. Follow the shoreline adjacent to the trail to reveal a tiny bay great for fishing.
At the end of the Swinging Bridge of Grist Mill Trail, you can take the fork to Cascade Falls Trail. It’s only a 2.1-mile hike, but it's more rugged than the others in Patapsco Valley State Park. Cross streams and waterways, or tunnel under old train tracks hidden in the forest. Along this trail, chasing waterfalls is always encouraged.
The NCR Trail is where history meets recreation. Formerly a busy thoroughfare in the 1800s until its rail lines were destroyed in a hurricane, The Northern Central Railroad Trail stretches 20 miles from Hunt Valley, Maryland to the Mason-Dixon Line. Another mainly flat trail, it’s surfaced with crushed gravel, which makes it great for biking, walking, and running. Plus, it’s super scenic — the trail tunnels through forest and follows the Gunpowder River for miles. Bonus: stop at the historic Monkton “train” station, which is now the visitor center and museum.
Nestled along Lake Roland, this 4.4-mile trail does not disappoint. A fairly flat loop around the lake, you’ll forget you are a short five-minute drive from the small, noisy town of Towson. The park offers a great opportunity for local artists to showcase their art throughout the trail. There are many sculptures, and the natural lighting accentuates the beauty of the works. Fitt Tip: Parking is tight along windy Falls Road, so be careful as you walk from your car.
Along the Prettyboy Reservoir, this 2.5-mile loop in Manchester, Maryland offers lots of sights. Although it is a challenging trail, with rocky pathways and hills perfect for climbing, we can tell you the effort on your hike is worth it—trek to the Prettyboy waterfall and take a dip in the swimming hole.